The A.A.C. Media Days
By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
Newport Rhode Island is one of the most scenic places to have a Media Day. As been tradition for the past several years by the American Athletic conference its coaches, players, and Bowl Reps get a chance to chow down on New England Clam Chowder, lobsters, and steamers. All put on at the Gurney’s Resort and Marina with a back-drop being the word famous Newport Bridge.
As the 2019 season approaches the two big buzz stories on the days were UCONN and its men’s and women’s basketball teams exiting to the Big East Conference. However, the Big East does not have football. So where does that leave Husky football.
According to Conference by-laws a team leaving must give 27 month notice and also a 10 million dollar exit fee. UCONN announced its departure last month.
The AAC also has a new deal with ESPN, a 12 year- 1 billion dollar media rights that starts next year. It’s possible that the schools will receive larger share from the deal.
The conference would be left with 11 teams and Commissioner Mike Aresco is ready to roll with them. “We’re a powerful conference even with 11,” said Aresco. “ We’ve been in touch with the Big Ten who had 11 teams for 20 plus seasons when Penn State joined in 1993. ” The AAC plays 8 conference games it could follow the same format as the Big Ten’s old format giving each team two permanent annual opponents and rotating the other six teams.
No one can say the AAC schedules lightly non-conference opponents. Week 1 UCLA travels to Cincinnati, Wisconsin is at South Florida, Michigan State takes on Tulsa, OLE Miss at Memphis, and Houston at Oklahoma. On Sept 7 Tulane is at Auburn. In 2020 the first game under the ESPN deal will have Notre Dame playing Navy in Ireland on August 24th 2020.
“I am looking forward to opening night,” said Josh Jones of U of Houston. “We’ve been working hard for that opener we have to be ready.”
There are several other non-conference match-ups with AAC teams this season including Stanford, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, BYU and Air Force.
“I challenge anyone to tell me this is not POWER 6 scheduling, or tell me we won’t be competitive in these games,” added Aresco.
AAC NOTES: This is the 150th anniversary of college football. The first game was played in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. In his opening speech Aresco also mentioned the retirement of BIG TEN Commissioner Jim Delaney. Sometime known as “The most powerful man in sports,” Delaney is stepping down after some 30 years.
“He is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful leaders in college sports,” said Aresco. “He was a supreme strategist, very analytical and decisive.”
In March the great Navy running back Joe Bellino passed. Aresco had spent a lot of time with the Heisman trophy winner at several Army-Navy games. “He was humble and self-effacing. He was a great man and a great representative of the Naval Academy.”